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From the Chicago Times-Herald race in 1895 to the golden age of Formula 1 racing in the 1950s and 1960s, a chronograph has been an essential piece of a driver's kit. These chronographs--flashier than their military or pilot's counterparts--became as integral an accessory to drivers as gloves and a helmet. Many of these have assumed legendary status thanks to the drivers who wore them, and so firm is the connection to watch and driver that they're known by the driver's name in collectors' circles.
The Jim Clark Multichron 12 is one of these.
Born in 1936, James "Jim" Clark was the only boy in a family of five children. No wonder, then, that he'd find some way to distinguish himself. With his parents' reluctant support, he started racing in the twisting roads and rolling hills of his native Fife, Scotland.
His tenacious and competitive spirit led to his promotion to races at the national level. Instead of his personal Sunbeam-Talbot, he raced Jaguars and Porsches. But Clark is perhaps best-known for his association with Lotus, which began in 1958.
That year, Clark beat Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus, in a race on Boxing Day. Chapman was so impressed with his performance that he gave Clark a place in Lotus's Formula Junior team. But Clark didn't stay in the junior leagues for long.
Half-way through the Formula 1 season of 1960, Clark raced for the first time at the Dutch Grand Prix, but a final drive failure forced him to retire in the 49th lap. Still, Clark pressed on, racing in the Belgian Grand Prix later that year. It was then that he first witnessed the deadly consequences of the sport--two drivers, Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey, lost their lives at that race.
And the next year, in 1961, Clark again felt the finger of death creep up his spine. In the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 10, Clark's Lotus collided with a Ferrari driven by German racer Wolfgang von Trips. The Ferrari went airborne and plowed through a barrier, ejecting Trips from the car and colliding with fifteen spectators.
Nevertheless, Clark persisted.
In all, Clark won 25 of 73 races in his career, including two World Championships. At the time of his death he'd won more Grand Prix races than any other driver. The Times of London recently ranked him as the best Formula 1 racer of all time.
But all this would end in 1968 at the Hockenheimring, when Clark's Lotus veered off the track and crashed into some trees, killing Clark instantly.
The watch that Clark wore was the Gallet MultiChron 12H, so known for its third register and capability of recording up to twelve hours. The look of the entire watch, from its sharp steel lines and beveled edges to its barrel pushers and uncluttered dial, is simply breathtaking, and is absolutely one of our favorite expressions of 1950s chronographs. Internally, the MultiChron 12Hs were fitted with either Valjoux 72 or Excelsior Park 40 manufacture movements.
This particular example is fitted with the rarer EP40 movement and features the rarer and more desirable dark dial configuration made famous amongst collectors by racing legend Jim Clark.
With tremendous looks, legitimate history, and serious mechanical movements, it is our opinion that Gallet chronographs are well positioned to be one of the "next big things" in vintage watch collecting.
Stainless steel case is approximately 37mm (excluding crown). Excelsior Park Calibre 40 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1950s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with sharp bevels, strong lugs, and only light signs of wear from age and use. Dial is in likewise very good condition with only light signs of wear and age. Luminescent elements on the of the hour markers and hands have aged evenly. Case back is in very good condition with some light tool marks. Barrel pushers and unsigned crown.
Includes one 19mm dark brown leather strap.